HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Joseph & Mary
HTS Overall Score:63
I’ve said it before and I’ll it again. I’m one of the biggest critics of faith based movies, and not because I have something against. In fact I look forward to them in hopes that I might find something that I truly like, but so many of them suffer from pedestrian writing, poor acting and over clichéd storytelling techniques. I love the source material, as a believe myself, but I seem to be destined for frustration as I have to wade through poor movie after poor movie (although I really enjoyed the recently released film “Risen”, which I recommend greatly). “Joseph & Mary” is another film that tries it’s heart out, but ultimately fails to be anything other than another low budget Christian film that suffers from poor acting and poor script writing.
Penned from writers Julie Kim and Karine Marwood, “Joseph and Mary” takes a look the beginnings of Jesus’ life as seen through the eyes of Josph (Kevin Sorbo), Mary (Lara Jean Chorostecki) and a young rabbi by the name of Elijah (Stephen McCarthy). This young Rabbi witnesses the death of an innocent Israelite by the name of Aaraon (Josh Bainbridge) and feels honor bound to take care of his widow Rebekah (Katie Boland) and their young sons. As Elijah’s burden is placed upon his shoulders so is a love for the young widow, and soon Rebekah reciprocates that feeling. As his love is for Rebekah, Rabbi Elijah feels towards all people and some of the recipients of that love is poured out upon a young pregnant couple by the name of Joseph and Mary. Now we all know who they are, but Elijah doesn’t, so it is through his eyes that we see the Messiah burgeon forth.
During the great purge of Bethlehem where King Herrod ordered the death of every child under the age of 2 years old, Rebekah is relieved of her children thanks to Herrod’s centurion, Tiberius (Sean Bell). Leaving the young widow with nothing. At this time Jesus has already escaped to Egypt, where he stays until Herrod is dead, but upon their return Elija, Rebekah, and the family of Jesus are reunited once more, only this time Rebekah and Elijah are shells of their former selves. Rebekah is consumed by grief and along with Elijah has made it her life’s goal to track down the soldier who killed her children and end his life. Now with the return of Jesus, Elijah feels a compulsion, nay a power that is tugging on his heart strings, drawing his eyes away from the vengeance he and his wife have planned.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=74657[/img]“Joseph & Mary” has its heart in the right spot, that’s for sure. Kevin Sorbo is a charismatic man, and a passionate believer, so I was intrigued by the interview he gave about his enjoyment making the movie and was more than willing to give it a chance. Sadly it falls prey to the standard pitfalls of most religious films, and that is poor writing and a weak supporting cast. Sorbo gives it his all, and there are several moments with Mary that are incredibly sweet and poignant, but it’s hard to do much when you’re given painfully stilted dialog that feels like it was written by a 12 year old. The first 30 minutes of the movie has all the actors speaking so stilted that it sounds like William Shatner is delivering the lines himself!
Still, the movie has its enjoyable part, and while I normally get very nitpicky about the historical accuracy of the story, I definitely have to give this one a pass due to the fact that it fictionalized a completely fictitious character in the movie who was experiencing Jesus himself. There really was nothing that made me go “hey! That’s COMPLETLEY unbiblical!”. We have the standard moment where Jesus is at the temple teaching, a few lines from his life, and then most of the film centers around Elijah, Rebekah and Joseph as they come to grips with the fact that Jesus is the messiah.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=74665[/img]The 1.78:1 Mpeg2 encoding for “Joseph & Mary” isn’t a great looking encode, but it is more than serviceable for the low budget digital entry. Colors are bright and cheery, popping off of the screen as clothing accents, but much of the film is very dusty and earthy looking, mimicking the Israeli desert quite well. Fine detail is good, but not great, showing off crisp details at one scene, only to shift to different cameras (and see a color change as well which is indicative of low budget editing) and detail looks a tad smeary. Blacks are good, showing solid shadow detail but also I noticed a bit of a contrast boost and that boost tends to wash out a few of the darker bits.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=74673[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital track afforded to us is quite serviceable, but nothing spectacular. Dialog is strong and clear, with a decent score to accompany it, but the rest of the channels really don’t get that much of a workout. The LFE comes in with a few things like horses hooves or to accent the score, but besides those moments the surrounds and the LFE channel tend to be largely silent. I’d have to say that it really is a bit more like a 3.0 track rather than a full 5.1 if you take into account the heavily heavily front mixed audio track.
Is “Joseph & Mary” a good movie? Not really, but it’s not a horrible misrepresentation of Jesus’ life or anything either. Instead it makes for a fairly passable fictionalized telling of a fictional character around the time of Jesus younger years, and might have actually been good had it not been for a really weak supporting cast and HORRIBLE script writing. Audio and video are just about what I would expect for a low budget drama, and do quite well considering. There’s unfortunately zero extras on the disc at all, thus I have to recommend this as a low rental for those who are looking for another Christian film, but a good skip for everyone else.
Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Ashley Armstrong
Directed By: Roger Christian
Written By: Julie Kim, Karine Marwood
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English DVS DD 2.0
Runtime: 83 Minutes
DVD Release Date: July 5th, 2016
Buy Joseph and Mary On DVD at Amazon
Recommendation: Low Rental/Skip It
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